Brutal Bitter Ale | Rogue Ales

2,144 Ratings
Brutal Bitter AleBrutal Bitter Ale

Brewed by:
Rogue Ales
Oregon, United States

Style: American IPA

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 6.30%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
**NOTE: This beer is now called "Brutal IPA" **
It has also been bottled as "Portland State IPA" (2010).

An Imperial bitter with exotic traditional floor malts, citrusy, hoppy flavor and stupendous hop aroma. Rogue brewmaster John Maier describes his Brutal IPA as a cross between a Very Extra Special Bitter and an Indian Pale Ale. Hedonistic!

8 INGREDIENTS: 2-Row, Carawheat, C15 & Rogue Farms Dare™ & Risk™ Malts; Rogue Farms Alluvial™ Hops; Free Range Coastal Water & Pacman Yeast.

22oz Bottle & Draft / 15° Plato / 46 IBU / 81 AA / 13° Lovibond

Added by BeerAdvocate on 08-28-2001

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User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 2,144 |  Reviews: 1,109
Photo of ATPete
4/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz bottle

Pours a chill hazy orange brown color with a monster off white head. Slight astringency in the nose along with loads of fresh bitter hops, more reminiscent of a strong English IPA rather than an ESB... dare i say Imperial ESB? Theres "Imperial" everything else so why not. Fruity with a grassy/herbal character and a sturdy semi-sweet malt backing. Crisp with carbonation but with a slightly grainy texture. Decent balance is achieved throughout but this beer is obviously dominated by a hops, beautiful bitter hops. I would definitely revisit this beer.

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Photo of jjazz
3.65/5  rDev -9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A head never even formed on this one in clean glassware.

A good beer. Very...un bitter; Somewhere between a mild IPA and a Pale Ale. I've never had an ESB, but I like this one. Nicely balanced and easy to drink.

Some nice citrusy hops with mild malty notes. A nice change of pace from all of the IPAs I've been having lately.

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Photo of farrago
3.95/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Super cloudy amber-orange color, barely shifts to yellow at the rims, huge frothy head that takes its damn sweet time dissolving, like it wants to be in a "Got Milk?" commercial. The nose generously spreads itself broadly, grapefruit and orange citrus, aggressive hops, honeycomb more than honey, whisper of wheat, mixed white pit fruits, nothing here suggests an ESB beer. Medium-bodied, the froth translates into a shitload of mouth foam, almost gotta shut yer trap to keep it in. The citrus and hops again take the lead, followed on by accents of anise seed, nutmeg and cedar. More blunt than refreshing, tries to lift but too bottom-heavy and spreads across the tongue. As sweet as bitter, and truly nothing brutal about it. Granting this, it's tasty and nothing not worth chugging down.

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Photo of timmay41
4.32/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: The pour offers a hazy copper hue and a healthy off-white head with nice lacing.

Smell: The bomber bottle touts that there's a "stupendous hop aroma." It reminds me of the smell of a wet-hopped beer... it has that kind of thick fragrance.

Taste: Well, I did have this beer on draught a couple weeks ago and it was more nuanced, but this still has character--well balanced, starting on the mild side, them some malty qualities before more active hop bitterness enters the equation.

Mouthfeel: Smooth, with just enough carbonation, and a kind of slippery quality that contributes to mouthfeel as well as taste. The mouthfeel reminds me of Quintine Blonde actually.

Drinkability: I feel like a fool for not discovering this beer sooner, as it's a great option in a style/category I don't go to often enough. Pleasantly balanced and drinkable.

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Photo of racer2k
4.55/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

22oz bomber pour into a pint glass

A: Pours a cloudy hazy dark amber/orange color with one finger cake batter colored head. Minimal lacing around the glass.

S: Citrus, Grapefruit, floral hops, pine, and a sweet malty aroma, at first blush it smells a lot like a high powered IPA.

T: Nice balance of hops, malt and bitterness with an earthy floral overtone. This beer has an excellent balance of malt and hops. There are also hints of a biscuits and sweet bread. The finish is malty. Nice complexity of flavors here.

M: Medium mouth feel with light carbonation and a nice hoppy aftertaste

D: Very nice beer that has tremendous complexity but is extremely drinkable. This is one of the most interesting "Bitters" that I have tasted. Great work Rogue Team!

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Photo of AdmiralDiaz
3.99/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a bomber to pint glass

A: Nice copper color, not very transparent. about a 1.5 finger very puffy off-white head with great retention. Not very bubbly at all. However this has some of the best lacing I've ever seen.

S: Smells hoppy with a bit of citrus.

T: Hops up front with a bit of tart citrus with a biter aftertaste. Not a lot going on other than some malt balance and a small yeast flavor. I taste a small bit of apple cinnamon. Not as bitter as I expected...

Overall Its pretty smooth and drinkable for the style.

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Photo of beveritt
4.15/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Presentation: Poured from a 12 oz brown bottle into an Imperial pint glass. Label depicts the standard Rogue pose, this one being performed by a mustachioed gentleman in a purple shirt. Not nearly the amount of information normally found on Rogue bombers. No freshness date.

Appearance: Pours with 3 fingers of very light tan head. This settles slowly, still maintaining an impressive height, even after settling. Plenty of lacing is left behind and throughout the glass. The beer itself is orange and cloudy, looks like a hefe. Some sediment in the bottle.

Smell: Piney hop aroma with a caramel and biscuit malt backbone.

Taste: Grapefruit hop flavor upfront, with a solid malt body to follow. Malt is biscuity. Slight butterscotch finish, indicative of the classic English Ringwood yeast strain? Tea like flavor comes out as the beer warms.

Mouthfeel: Average to lower than average carbonation level, as is appropriate for the style. Amazing body.

Drinkability: It has been a while since I have had a Rogue and I had forgotten how well they do the classic styles. A near perfect blend of hop spice and malt body. Great.

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Photo of hopstorm
5/5  rDev +24.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Absolutely perfect. This is the equivalent to heavens ambrosia. Pours a hazy golden color. Creamy head. Its almost like each sip is a chewy bite of goodness. The malt-hop balance is uncanny. Crystal hops dance on the palate and the malt combination is just fantastic, mostly marris otter I believe. It smells like its going to be hoppier than it is, and while it is hoppy, its just balanced so well. The pac man yeast is probably what pulls it all together. Unlike any traditional british bitter I've ever had. I could drink this all day every day. Rogue really out did themselves here. I really don't know why I buy anything else. A bit pricey at 12 for a 6er but well worth it IMO. Try this one, you won't be disappointed!

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Photo of nc41
4.38/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

What's not to like. Pours a deep amber color, nice head, definitely no floral nose here. I'm not sure how to categorizer this brew, it's not like an IPA, although I'm sure the IBU'S are right there. I'd say a Strong Ale in line with Arrogant Bastard. The malt is present and very discretely the tiniest bit sweet, bitter on the finish, Full flavored, but not heavy, and very satisfying. I love the stuff, and it's definitely worth a try.

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Photo of jujubeast6000
3.45/5  rDev -14%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Reviewed 12/20/2008 (bottle):

Pours a huge foamy head, whitish, diminishing. Body is very clear golden amber body. Very hoppy grapefruity aroma. Hoppy taste but a big balancing malty taste, some nuttiness like hazelnut. Nice taste, would make a good session beer. Very carbonated mouthfeel. Drying aftertaste. A little much after a bit.

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Photo of WAP
4.5/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a hazy copper with a very clean, one-finger head that dissipates, with only faint trace trace, over the first few sips.

Smell is quite nice - caramel-apple with a just-right sweetness.

Taste is quite a departure from the smell, with a firm dose of hops adding some grassy elements and a nice bitterness, fading into a biscuit malt flavor on the back end.

Mouthfeel is nice, creamy. Overall, this is an exceptionally drinkable offering.

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Photo of thekevlarkid
4.2/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Out of a bottle this beer was an incredibly cloudy, raw honey color. The head was tan, one-finger large and both retained well and left good lacing. The aroma was very hoppy with a pleasant citrus/pine balance and some caramel malt in the background. The flavors were equally well balanced with just enough of a slant towards the bitter side. It started with an enjoyable caramel malt note that was then tempered by the bitter pine, orange rind and grapefruit flavors. In the background one could detect a biscuity malt presence. The mouthfeel was smooth and slightly oily, the carbonation perfect, the body medium/full. A rich, well rounded and rewarding beer that stands as one of the best examples of a true ESB widely available.

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Photo of darklordlager
3.8/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours an excellent shade of orange, with a creamy, light butter colored head that recedes a bit, then sits there.

Smell is of grassy citrus, some sweet fruit-tangerines and oranges. You can detect a bit of malt underlying the great flowery scent. Smells fantastic.

Taste is hops, hops hops. Sweet, citrusy, grassy. Not as much complexity to the hop flavour as I was expecting from the smell...

Mouthfeel is creamy but light.

Drinkability is good. I could drink a few of these. The hop blast makes it refreshing.

I tend to like my bitters a bit more balanced, or, if it's going to be a hop bomb-to have a depth of flavours. This one, while coming off with intense flavour, lacks the complexity I seek. Personal preference perhaps.

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Photo of LilBeerDoctor
3.58/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Reviewed on 8/16/08. Bottle. Pours a cloudy dull orange with a small light tan head. Aroma is quite hoppy- lots of citrus hops, slight fruitiness. Flavor is similar- citrus hops, apple skins, tropical fruits, sweet malt. Palate is a little weak. Sweet, fruity, tasty.
7/4/8/3/14 (3.6/5)

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Photo of jperls
4.38/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Found six of these guys sitting in the make your own bargain bin of ACE beverage in DC (New Mexico Ave). Did not hesitate to make two of my own six packs full of nothing but this and Weihenstephaner Hefeweizen. Total cost? $8

A-Creamy white two finger head that leaves a lace as it recedes. Pours a hazy golden brown. Solid looking beer.

S-Straight up hops. citric, grapefruity nose

T-Tastes like it smells. Hops come through right away creating a very citric and flowery taste. Nothing too out of the ordinary but very tasty nonetheless. Hops remain the dominant force throughout. Good representation of the style as far as I can taste.

M-Nicely carbonated. Not too syrupy but not lacking body by any means

D-Great session beer for hopheads. Not overpowering like some IPA's DIPA'a but plenty of hop bite. I could easily stick with this for an entire night

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Photo of Jmoore50
4.02/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

First review on site. Got to start somewhere.
Lets start at the bottle. Love the Rogue graphics. Bought a 22oz bomber. Popped the cap and instant aroma.

Poured into a tulip and I instantly could tell the citrus smell. Beautiful color. A dark orange haze. Held up to the light and the yeast can be seen.

The head came to about a finger and a half. Came down quite quickly although. The color is so hazy and cloudy that nothing is visible through. A good start in my opinion.

Taste is good. Bouncing hops come to mind. The beer dances on the palate. I feel like it is almost too sweet or too much citrus. I poured the first tulip a little too cold, which tasted good and went down smooth. The second poor was better. The aroma smelled more like the single hop and less overwhelming citrus. As it is warmer it doesnt punch enough, almost smooths. The tip of my tongue tastes the bitterness, but it doesn't dance as much.

The drinkablilty although is amazing. I could easy drink a few more, and I deffinely will. I love drinking it, but for being called Brutal Bitter, I was expecting to be kicked in the mouth. Did not happen, although the alternative was not bad at all.

Overall a very good brew from an amazing brewery.

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Photo of Spikester
4/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours hazy amber with a large off-white head. Good amount of lacing.
Aroma is mildly sweet floral and resins.
Taste is bitter hops with a touch of earthy malts. Tastes more like an IPA than a bitter. I was a bit afraid to try a beer named "Brutal Bitter" but no fear, this is just an excellent ESB.
Not at all bad though. I enjoyed this beer. Buy some now!

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Photo of magictrokini
3.8/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Cloudy orange pour with a medium white head. Hops, pine and grapefruit, and crystal malt are prevalent in the nose. Interesting taste. Its like an ESB split with an IPA, though more on the ESB side in comparison with the American amber. Lighter and fruity, but with creamy malts. Not what I expected.

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Photo of mugglesandhops
3.82/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had on tap at the brew pub in Newport

Poured a deep red color, 1 finger off white head, decent lacing, nothing special here, smelled of hops, little citrus notes in there tasted almost overly hoppy but not in a good way, pretty bitter, med. bodied beer, it was decent but I probably wont go out looking for this one.

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Photo of mdagnew
4.12/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

355ml bottle bought from

Poured a deep coppery orange colour with a slight haze. Creamy head with a hint of orange poured fairly thick and foamy with a pock marked topping then faded to light covering... light stream of carbonation bubbles drifts slowly to the surface... some sticky patches of lacing...

Aroma - Strong juicy fruits (oranges, grapefruits, apples, pears) backed by some lightly toasted caramel malts, some biscuity notes, quite floral and perfumed, light honey sweetness, good piney and grassy hops, hint of resiny sap, marmalade notes, hint of marzipan...

Taste - Lots of strong piney and grassy hop bitterness to the fore with some medicinal notes in the background, quite herbal - light hints of basil, very floral and perfumed, sweet caramel malts come through after the hops, very juicy fruits (grapefruits, oranges, pears), faint anise traces...

M&D - Fairly sharp and dry... light / medium bodied... a very quaffable brew although maybe just slightly too strong to be sessionable...

Overall - An excellent US take on an ESB... recommended...

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4.23/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 22oz. bottle into a pint glass.

A: Pours a hazy golden amber with a billowy, relentless off-white head that left beautiful lacing all the way to the bottom of the galss.

S: Pine resin and citrus with toasted almond.

T: The standout flavor was that of kumquats. The finish tastes of bitter citrus and light bready yeast.

M: Medium with perfect carbonation.

D: I'll definitely be picking up plenty more of this in the future.

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Photo of SurlyDuff
4.24/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

One of my favorite Rogues, and one of the highest rated esb's out there.

A rich glowing reddish copper color, with a nice robust foam.

Aroma at first is their propietary pacman yeast,then ofcourse big floral hoppiness and with a high alpha impression.

A raw pithy rind kinda taste at first. Pine and grapefruit like a big ipa up front, but it fades to a nice crisp bitterness. Other breweries would call this a big beer or a reserve series, but this is just one of Rogues several flagships. A great drinker in every respect. A have fond memories of sitting down with a bomber of this in college and sipping it for a good hour or more. mmmm....

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Photo of babaracas
3.92/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a dark amber, slightly hazy (apparently bottle conditioned?) with off-white head, lacing for the first inch or so. Smell: hops upfront, caramel sweetness underneath. Taste: hops: citrus rind, piney, raw and earthy. Definite wheat malts with some caramel sweetness and a bit English with some background toffee + buttery flavors. Mouthfeel: Fluffy wheat beer mouthfeel (odd for an esb) with a little too much carbonation and a moderately bitter finish. Decent west coast take on an esb.

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Photo of cdkrenz
3.84/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A - Tangerine color with a frothy, 2 inch, medium tan colored head. The body is hazy and allows just enough light through. Very inviting.

S - Soapy hops arranging images of strawberry licorice and plums.

T - It starts off with a huge kick of hops right from the get go all the way to the end where it finishes with a tart hoppy flavor.

M - Very smooth feel. It goes down easily without leaving a coarse trail.

~ The name isn't kidding! This brew is filled with brutally bitter hops. I'm happy take this bottle a suck it back but more than one in a night may not be manageable. Regardless, I think Rogue got exactly what they wanted when they set out to concoct this ESB.

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Photo of adamette
3.93/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

On tap at The Winking Lizard in Fairlawn, Ohio a few hours ago into a 22 oz. clean, clear pint glass, the "hoppy hoppy" special of the month.

A Has a one finger moderate very light brown head over a burnt orange hazy, murky body. I really like the look of this beer. The head dissipated down to a trace within 60 seconds. Some lacing but only right where the beer had just been as I drank it.

S Dry hopped smell. It as if I am in a field of hops and the wind is brisk.

T Hops bitterness in the front but this fades (thankfully) to a nice, malty, hoppy complexity that I really appreciated over the 22 oz. I was not a big hops fan but it is efforts like these that are helping me be more and more open to hoppy beers (and inspire me to get the "hoppy hoppy handle" at Winking Lizard).

M Full with hoppy bitterness with the malty backdrop.

D Fair with hoppy bitterness and bigness of this beer.

Notes: As indicated above I was pleasantly suprised with this beer as I have not enjoyed hoppy stuff in the recent past. I recommend it.

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Brutal Bitter Ale from Rogue Ales
4.01 out of 5 based on 2,144 ratings.
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